Monday, October 28, 2013

All the Feels: Introversion Part 2

Earlier this month we talked about Introversion: how you know if you're an introvert and what challenges you might face as a writer as a consequence. A couple more things came out in Comments and discussion on Twitter after that post that I neglected to mention.

One is the exhaustion that comes with being an introvert in a social situation. You know hosting a big holiday party or social event at work or being in charge of Thanksgiving Dinner can wear out the host? For introverts, every party might feel like that. That overwhelmed feeling is one reason Introverts tend to avoid social events that are large, or that include many people with whom we're unfamiliar. Between the noise and different things to attend to and the lack of confidence we tend to feel in such situations, the over-stimulation factor can be huge.

Another thing someone on Twitter mentioned was the concept of Ambiverts. This is a relatively new concept that's still undergoing a lot of exploration, but essentially it poses the theory that there are people in between the extremes of extroversion and introversion that maybe want to be extroverts but have introvert instincts. For me, as a clinician, I haven't seen enough evidence to buy into this idea yet. Personally, I think "Ambiverts" are introverts that are still bowing to societal pressure to resist their introversion.

Okay, so if you're an introvert and a writer, what does that mean? What are some things you can do to make your Writing Life easier, during those times when you can't stay cozied up in your happy writerly bubble? Here are some tips and techniques:

Embrace your introversion. This is NOT the same thing as saying 'the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.' Being an introvert isn't wrong. It isn't dysfunctional. It's just different from the way many (louder) people might expect you to be. You need to be okay with that. Otherwise you'll put all sorts of unnecessary expectations on yourself that require you to deny who you are. (Which, incidentally, is exactly what we tell our YA readers NOT to do, eh?)

Know your social limits. At my SCBWI conference this year, I poked my head in the cocktail hour schmooze for about fifteen seconds, said some hellos, and got the hell out of there. That sort of event is not for me. And honestly, I don't think I need it to be successful as a writer. I did plenty of networking otherwise at the conference. I'm not good at small talk. So I set that limit for myself.

Veronica Roth, also is a great example of someone who knows her limits and sets her boundaries accordingly:

Another thing that has happened as a result of the growing size of these events is that they have become much more stressful for me. For a long time I watched rockstar authors take All The Photos and sign All the Books and they were so good at it and so calm while they were doing it that I got mad at myself for not being the same way. But recently I've accepted that everyone has a different capacity for certain things, and everyone's stress/nervousness is triggered by different things. I have isolated the things that stress me out (really long signings, lots of photos), and am trying to accommodate my own limits into my events so that I'm still able to be friendly and upbeat while I'm doing them (instead of entering panic mode). 

If you do need to play extrovert, make sure you give yourself a break. I prefer to take my breaks before social events as well as after, because I need to quiet my mind before I can effectively handle the sensory overload that comes with being so outside my comfort zone. After a party, I'm exhausted (a true sign of introversion if there ever was one), so if I'm in a situation like a conference where the social nightmare is only a part of what I'm going to be doing that day, I make time for myself to prepare AND debrief.

Recognize the introvert tendencies that ARE dysfunctional. For examples, introverts have an exceptionally hard time accepting compliments. Deal with it. If someone likes your ish, thank them for it. Smile. Look at their eyebrows if you can't make eye contact (if we're CPs or beta buddies, you'll notice my characters are often fascinated by eyebrows. There's a reason for this.)

Once you're confident in your own introversion, educate others. I've literally had teens STOP being suicidal once they learned that it was perfectly acceptable to say no to social events they did not want to go to. Until people know what introversion is, they might not know that it's okay. Or worse, they may think it's wrong. Learn about introversion and share that info with others who could benefit from the knowledge.

You could, I dunno, write a blog post about it or something. 

Which of these techniques work well for you? What else do you do to make the extrovert world easier on your introvert brain?

Dannie Morin is an author, blogger, and freelance editor. She's currently contemplating seeking help for her social media addiction. In the meantime, you can find her on Blogger, Facebook, Goodreads, & Twitter. If you've got suggestions for a future All the Feels post, contact Dannie via the contact form on her blog. She is repped by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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